#NHL Injury Report - the latest info on Tyler Seguin, Zach Parise, Brandon Pirri, Vincent Trocheck, Sean Couturier and many others...
After one week of playoff hockey, is anyone still alive? Yes, actually. No team has gotten swept yet, though check out Washington-Philly tonight for the first chance at it. Even in terms of players, there are actually less injuries than when we started! What the heck, Blues-Hawks? I expected a bloodbath! There’s plenty of time for that I suppose. Here’s how injuries have been shaping round one so far.
Dallas vs Minnesota
With Minnesota still missing two key players, it’s time for the Stars to put this away already. Tyler Seguin made a brief appearance in game two, but it was not to be. He remained in Texas while his team flew to Minnesota. Apparently he didn’t feel all that great. Thankfully, the Stars can rely on their captain, Jamie Benn, to lead them to victory over a depleted Wild team. In fact, this Wild team is the weakest team to make the playoffs since the 2005-2006 season. No playoff team since then has a lower point total. If I were Lindy Ruff, I’d give Seguin the rest of the series off to make sure he’s 100% for round two. They’ll need him at that level when they face the Blues or the Hawks.
Anaheim vs Nashville
These two teams are a picture of health. Except for Pirri (which… whatever), they’ve obviously taken their vaccinations for the injury bug so far. Getting David Perron, Rickard Rakell, and Kevin Bieksa back into the lineup has helped the Ducks give Nashville the first two games. Thankfully, they took one back, making the road team in this series a perfect 3-and-0. The Ducks switched their netminder and Frederik Andersen pitched a shutout in Game 3. Both these teams are deep enough that the only injury that’ll change the series is one to Pekka Rinne. However, a weird trend of stabbing sticks at goalies’ eyes has been starting in this series. Here’s Ryan Kesler jabbing at Rinne, and here’s James Neal’s retaliation at John Gibson, though it looks like Kesler is lifting his stick there as well. What do you have against goalies, Kesler?
Los Angeles vs San Jose
Here’s another series that’s been pretty healthy, with the exception of the Stanley-Cup-Winning-Goal scorer. LA’s best goal scorer, Marian Gaborik, returned from a knee injury to the tune of four shots on goal. He’s gotta return to his 2014 season form if LA wants to climb out of the hole they dug themselves in. The series is 2-1 right now in San Jose’s favour, but every game has been a one-goal game, so every goal matters. Even the injury count favours the Sharks, though not for lack of trying from the Kings. They’ve outhit Pavelski and Co. 144-111 in this series.
St. Louis vs Chicago
“This is the series to watch in round 1.”
Those were my exact words last week, and thank you to both teams for proving me correct. Like LA-SJ, it’s another tight series, with every game being decided by one goal. It even included a couple of late surges from the losing team threatening to tie the game up and send us into overtime. I also forecast a hefty amount of injuries, which is obviously not the case. Maybe I won’t claim to be a psychic just yet. Both teams have managed to keep their health up, except for Carl Gunnarsson, who isn’t exactly challenging for top line minutes anyways. As everyone knows, though, the thing that has been making this series so controversial has been the offside reviews. I know it seems really pedantic, deciding goals by whether or not a player is offside by millimeters, but that’s not what really bothers me about it. They’re taking up so much damn time to make these calls that I’m losing interest midway through a game! I know I didn’t tune in for 15 minutes of splitting hairs every hour. On top of that, with defense as strong as it is in the NHL, do you really want players second-guessing themselves every time they’re crashing the blue line? Zone entries can be really tough; I don’t wanna see offense suffer even more.
Washington vs Philadelphia
This is the series that got ugly. I should’ve guessed it too, the writing was on the wall… of the Wells Fargo Center. Why didn’t I expect that the Philadelphia Flyers would start playing ugly hockey? And I’m not even talking about Orpik’s scary, scary concussion, because that hit was mild salsa. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare’s “just-a-push” hit on Dmitry Orlov could’ve had a much scarier ending. The guy’s neck damn near broke and the always-comical Department of Player Safety only gives Bellemare a game? Now, granted, that suspension might end up being “the rest of the playoffs”, considering the Caps are getting their brooms ready, but I’d really like to see that entire department replaced with the guys in charge of offside review. While they’ve been taking their own sweet time, they have been making the right calls. On another note, while Washington is an incredibly strong and deep team, you can chalk a lot of Philly’s lack of success up to the absence of Sean Couturier, who normally does an amazing job shutting down the opposition’s offense. His “out-for-series” status and might as well be equivalent to Del Zotto’s “out for playoffs” status.
Florida vs New York Islanders
Welp, John Tavares has made me look like a fool again. The Islanders’ captain is somehow carrying his team to a 2-1 series lead. With Trocheck out, the Panthers are in tough to stop or overcome his offense. Trocheck had 18 points in the 18 full games he played prior to injury. Jaromir Jagr hasn’t helped much; the ageless wonder has yet to make any sort of significant contribution to offense, despite a backup in the Isles’ net. Jagr’s lack of scoring isn’t new – apparently he hasn’t scored a playoff goal since he took part in dismantling Marc-Andre Fleury’s mind during that super fun Flyers-Penguins series back in 2012. The Panthers aren’t out of the playoffs yet, but with no Trocheck in Game 4 tonight and no signs of being able to take advantage of Halak’s injury, they’ve gotta pull something out of their ass if they want to have a sniff at Round Two.
Pittsburgh vs New York Rangers
Injuries are playing a huge role in this series. Fleury’s still out with a concussion, though the only update you’ll see is “we’re taking it one day at a time”. Usually people don’t mean it so dang literally. The Pens received Matt Murray back from his concussion woes, but having a rookie goalie face off against Henrik Lundqvist isn’t exactly an ideal situation. Hank had some injury trouble of his own when teammate Marc Staal caught him in the eye with his stick. It looked really bad at first, but he hasn’t missed any time, and it definitely doesn’t seem to be affecting his play. Both teams received reinforcements on the blueline, with Olli Määttä returning for the Pens and Ryan McDonagh returning for the Rangers. Both teams even responded to the opposition receiving those reinforcements the same way: by targeting them. The Rangers went right at Määttä every chance they got, and the Pens didn’t hesitate to make McDonagh’s life hellish. The Rangers’ captain got sent injured-hand-first into the boards, which I’m sure contributed to his ineffectiveness in the game. He had a little success against Carl Hagelin’s line, but got crushed in 5v5 situations with any other matchup. Not what you want out of your best defenseman and leader. Maybe his intangibles™ make up for it, who knows?
Tampa Bay vs Detroit
Tampa Bay had some reinforcements of their own, and they’ve been doing some damage. Tyler Johnson just hopped into fourth on the Lightning’s all-time goal-scorers list, which is mostly due to his insane showing last year, where he led the league in postseason goal-scoring and tied for the lead in points. “Not so fast”, said Nikita Kucherov, who joined Johnson at #4 last night. The triplet line is back at it, doing damage to the Red Wings’ postseason. Tampa’s scored eleven goals in this series; the triplets have scored eight of those (that’s Johnson, Kucherov, and Ondrej Palat for those of you who are confused right now). Of the 29 points that Tampa players have accrued, the triplets account for 17. They’re really coming through in the absence of captain Steven Stamkos. If they can keep this up and close out Detroit tomorrow, and try to do the same against the winner of Isles-Panthers, they stand a shot at receiving Stamkos and/or Stralman in round three. If that happens, Tampa could go from long-shot to contender real quick.
As always, thanks for reading, and follow me on Twitter for more frequent injury updates and general hockey-related tomfoolery! @AjayDaCosta, in case that address bar is too far away.
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